A friend of mine called me Wednesday and referred to me as her “happy, happy Democrat friend”. I’m not sure happy does it justice. It’s more like the feeling I experienced after giving birth – exhausted from the effort and anticipation; over-the-moon with the result; overwhelmed by the enormity of what just happened.
Since turning 18, I’ve done my share of “lesser of two evils” voting. It is a thrilling experience to get to cast my ballot for someone I truly believe in. Someone who is smart, articulate and espouses hope, as opposed to fear. And the fact that he won? Amazing!
Then there is the fact that the U.S. just elected its first African-American president. Think about it this way: within Obama’s relatively short life span thus far, the U.S. has gone from enacting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to electing an African-American to its highest office. It’s true that the 15th amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibited governments from preventing citizens the right to vote based on race, but that didn’t exactly make a clear path. Facing tactics like poll taxes and literacy tests to violence and intimidation, African-Americans remained disenfranchised. Getting to the point where African-Americans in Alabama can register and vote freely was no easy task. Just ask anyone who was trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in March 1965.
Some committed and brave folks crossed that bridge and many others. Thanks to them, we’ve come a long way, baby! But to think that we are in a post-racial time is pretty naive. It only takes a few anecdotes from the polls to understand the continued need for such a law. The need for The Movement isn’t over, but the face of those who are being discriminated against and disenfranchised is changing.
I don’t envy Obama the task at hand. Not since Atlas has someone had such a weight to shoulder. The whole world is looking to him to fix the myriad woes that surround us: the economy, the environment, health care, education, the war, etc. None of these tremendous problems are going to be fixed anytime soon. Let’s face it, he doesn’t have a magic wand. As I’ve learned parenting a little boy with no impulse control, it takes far more time, effort and patience to fix something that’s broken, than it does to break it in the first place.